IBC’s first ever LGBTQ+ session as part of the IBC2023 Changemakers programme in the Forum saw a three strong panel of Matthew Williams-Neale, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Appear, Paul Pastor, Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder, Quickplay and Alfie Potter, Technical Analyst, Enterprise Architecture, ITV come together to discuss how to bridge the diversity gap in tech and media.
The session, titled Afternoon Tea, Spill the Tea: An LGBTQ+ panel special, was hosted by Muki Kulhan, Innovation Co-Lead, IBC Accelerators.
Williams-Neale began by making the point that diversity is not by any means consistent across the media and tech industry: “I’ve been in the industry for 20 odd years, predominantly in the tech industry, and I’ve also worked in studios within costumes and wigs and the diversity is there. Absolutely. But when it comes down to core stem skills there’s a real lack [of diversity].
“I think there’s a lot more as an industry that we can do to be open and inclusive and encourage people to have interest in engineering skills and to widen the diversity of those communities.”
Pastor followed up with some pragmatic advice - Talk about candidates’ skills before you talk about their cultural fit or suitability: “Some of the best advice I ever got is when you talk about a candidate, first start talking about their skills before you’re talking about cultural fit. Because you can say whether this person meets the job requirements, [whether] they really excel in certain areas, before we start talking about whether or not they’re different. If you say: ‘this person is actually really qualified, maybe we need more diversity within our team’, that adds a lot…”
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Pastor continued to cement his views on diversity within business organisations: “It’s not only about policy, it’s about seeing diversity as a strength. When I was working in big media companies, you’d walk into the C-suite, and it’s all they’re talking about NFL. They can all relate to it because that’s the currency.
“There’s no there’s no female in there. There’s no LGBTQ person. There may be no person of colour in there. So the conversation is monolithic, and if conversation is monolithic at a social level, it’s also [the same] at your strategic strategy level and across the board.
“You’re not thinking about how to better serve your consumers, how to better think about problem solving. Businesses who have women on their boards have a 20% higher return in their company. So at the most basic level, if you’re a shareholder driven [enterprise], having a female on your board makes a difference in the return on capital. So there’s another element of how you think about creating more diversity, more diverse conversations and more entry points.”
The conversation continued to encompass the concept of allyship and the considerable importance of that supportive environment within a business and its role in creating more cultural understanding. Final summary thoughts from the panel included a quick note from Pastor: “Thanks to IBC for taking a leadership role in this. Thanks to everybody who’s sitting here, whether you’re a part of the community or ally, it makes a difference. And third, the message [from me] to you to walk away with is to find some way to be active in driving diversity in your company.”
Potter responded in kind: “Always be willing to learn and grow - if you see something that needs to be called out, do - don’t sit in silence.”
A final word from Williams-Neale: “Keep an open mind. It doesn’t matter whether it’s sexuality, race, culture, just keep an open mind, at the end of the day. We’re all working together in this industry, it’s a great industry to be in and just keeping an open mind and working for the greater goal of creating great content, delivering great content and creating amazing technology is an amazing place to be.”